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Comcast to Pay $800,000 and Keep Offer of Standalone Internet

Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, agreed to keep offering reasonably priced stand-alone high-speed Internet service and to pay $800,000 under an order announced by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The action today extends by one year a three-year requirement, set as part of Philadelphia-based Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal in 2011, to offer broadband at no more than $49.95 monthly to customers not taking cable service, the FCC said in an e-mailed news release.

“The remedies announced today will benefit consumers and foster competition, including from online video and satellite providers, by ensuring that standalone broadband is truly available in Comcast’s service areas,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, according to the news release.

Comcast began offering the required service, called Performance Starter, a month after receiving permission to buy NBC, the FCC said in an order released by e-mail. FCC officials “received information raising potential concerns about the extent of Comcast’s compliance” with the requirement to offer the service, according to the order. It didn’t give details of the information.

Comcast is to make an $800,000 voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury and to conduct a major advertising promotion in 2013 of standalone broadband, according to the order. The offering remains a requirement until 2015.

“We are proud of our standalone broadband offering of ’Performance Starter’ service,” Sena Fitzmaurice, a Washington-based Comcast spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “The FCC had questions on how the service might have been rolled out in a different or even better way.”

Comcast rose 1.5 percent to $31.04 at the close in New York. The shares have risen 31 percent this year.

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